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Posts Tagged ‘fretful thoughts’

I woke up at 4:00 am with a splitting headache and then couldn’t fall back to sleep. So I am feeling a bit fretful and complainy this morning. 

I don’t want Carla to get Covid. I have been doing my very best at isolating, but it is slightly tricky with my husband being back at work and me, you know, having to feed and care for my child. I wear a mask any time I venture out of my bedroom. I spend as little time in the “main house” as possible. Carla cries at bedtime because I can’t hug and kiss her goodnight. We have a little stash of rapid tests and have been making good use of them, and Carla and I went to the pharmacy the other day to get PCR tests. (That was nerve-wracking – we both wore masks AND I kept all the car windows wide open the whole time.) (My husband calmly reminds me that we were all just in a car/hotel room together, windows closed and maskless, for fifteen days.) Carla’s PCR test was negative, mine was not. I don’t know how I could manage to be the only one to get Covid, but if that’s how it works out, I will be very glad. Carla did just get her booster before we left, so I’m hoping she was at Peak Immunity when she was exposed to me and my germs. 

Here’s what I want to know about isolating in a home you share with others. How does it WORK? My bedroom is not magically on some alternate air circulation system. Every time I open the door, surely germs are escaping into the rest of the house. My mask isn’t trapping 100% of all the little Covid particles. HOW can we avoid getting Carla sick? It seems impossible. And yet, some people manage? I think? 

The next two bullets are Deeply Boring and yet I cannot bring myself to delete them.

I have been trying to do a little work from my bedroom. This means phone calls, my least favorite task of all. Do you recall the bank that charges us an annual “inactive” fee for an account whose sole purpose is sit there as collateral until we pay off a loan? (All the mind-numbing details are here.) After three years of arguing with people who cannot grasp simple concepts who work there, we sailed through 2020 AND 2021 without a late fee, and I was so delighted! They’d finally made a note on my account that there was no reason for me to make a deposit in an account that I cannot access, and had stopped charging me! You can sense what’s coming next, right? My husband alerted me this past May that we had now been charged a total of $12.00 in inactive fees. (Which means they DID charge us in 2021; we just didn’t notice.) Perhaps the bank had waived the fee in 2020 because of The State of Things. And apparently we simply did not notice when we began to lose $2.00 a month from the account. Whoops. As I have mentioned a billion times, normally I HATE making phone calls. But this one particular issue makes me practically giddy with wanting to tell someone how ASININE and RIDICULOUS it is. I was Let Me Talk to a Manager level irritated, after FIVE YEARS (minus the 2020 exception) of this nonsense. So back in May I called the bank and gave the lucky person who answered my spiel about how we should not be charged an inactive fee because the purpose of the account is to remain inactive. Unlike all the other brainless fools everyone else I’ve spoken to at the bank, she IMMEDIATELY understood that it was ridiculous to expect me to add even a single dollar to an account that I cannot touch. Not just ridiculous, but virtually impossible, considering that I don’t have checks or a debit card for that account, nor do I have digital access to the account, nor do I live within a 20 minutes’ drive of the bank. The account is under the control of the bank until we pay off the loan. The woman I spoke to Got It. Like, without my having to do anything but sketch out the basic issue, she said incredulously, “Well that’s ridiculous. Of course you wouldn’t want to add funds to an account you can’t touch! There’s no reason you should be paying an inactive fee on an account that’s meant to be inactive!” It took the bluster out of my Let Me Talk to a Manager sails, but it was SO mollifying to be understood. She said that she would talk with the bank supervisor and get the charge reversed AND she would have them make a note on our file. I was very pleased with the interaction. (Usually, the person I speak to says that ALL we have to do is deposit something in the account! It can be as little as a dollar! Once a year! And there are branches in X and Y and Z cities! Which, yes, I get that this sounds like a small amount of time and money and a very minimal hassle, but THE PRINCIPLE.) You know, perhaps, where this is heading. We came home to another statement which, alongside the credit of the $12, included a debit of $2 for a new inactive fee. ENDLESS SCREAMING.

Yes, I have a second bullet point about the banking thing. This morning, I called the bank and asked specifically to speak to the person I’d spoken to in May. Her name was similar to a fairly common name, but one syllable was different – like “Carlotte” instead of “Charlotte” or “Car-ree” instead of “Carrie” or “Samintha” instead of “Samantha.” I love her with my whole heart. She made things happen AND fully grasped why this situation is so stupid/frustrating. The person I spoke to put me on hold and then said that Samintha was not available but he would connect me to customer service. Sad, but okay. Customer Service means, as I discovered, the customer service line for the entire national banking system, when really I wanted to talk to someone (Samintha, sob!) in my local branch. Oh well. The customer service agent was very nice. His name was Tryin’ with a B. I explained to him that this is an annual problem, and gave him the quick and dirty details, and then he explained to me what was happening. “Oh, I think what the issue is, is that you have a LOAN, and this is a CHECKING ACCOUNT (it’s not, actually – it’s a money market account that we cannot access), and since you haven’t made any deposits or withdrawals, they are charging you an inactive fee.” Yes, thank you for repeating the exact same thing I just told you. And, nice as Tryin’ was, he couldn’t DO anything about it because the only person who can DO anything about it is the manager of my local branch. Tryin’ promised me he would call me back but I’m not holding my breath. I think I will see if I can get a hold of Samintha tomorrow.

I get canker sores about once a month and they are GOING WILD right now. I think this is a hormonal thing, but maybe it is a Covid thing? Who knows. Seems like EVERYTHING could be a Covid thing. And yes, canker sores are different from cold sores. They are basically little ulcers that occur inside the mouth, usually on the cheeks or under the tongue. Sometimes I get them on my gums, too. They are AWFUL. I have a massive one under my tongue and one on the very back part of my tongue right where my tongue brushes up against my bottom molars. 

The news is so enduringly turbulent. I just typed and erased a 634 word diatribe about one of the various Hot Button Issues that is driving me mad/making me worry that I have made a terrible mistake bringing a child into this fraught world. But I don’t like to write about Hot Button Issues on this blog, so I deleted it. (If I want to torment myself gnash my teeth and rend my garments over The State of Things catch up on world events, I will look at the news or go on Twitter.) Not that I have anything new or groundbreaking or interesting to say anyway; just vents/frets/threats of walking into the sea. There are SO MANY things going on and I have Feelings about many of them and yet I feel like it is utterly pointless to talk about them. The people I might discuss them with either disagree with me strenuously, which means voicing my own thoughts would lead to the type of confrontational encounter I HATE, and not to mention there’s no way I can convince anyone to feel differently from how they do; I don’t know enough of the background and facts, nor am I well-spoken enough to craft a convincing argument… or they already agree with me, and discussing things will just drive us each deeper into the pits of despair/rage we are already existing in.

I have eaten the last of the Reese’s peanut butter eggs.

My father (a physician for 40+ years) (I don’t know why I feel like I have to make sure you know he’s qualified to give advice) suggested that I make sure Carla is getting enough calcium. This is an ongoing concern, but one I haven’t properly fretted about recently, so I’m in Full Fret Mode right now. Apparently, she needs 1,300 mg of calcium per day – or four servings. She doesn’t get enough calcium. She refuses to drink milk – yes, even chocolate milk. She eats a bunch of cheese, and there is 200 mg of calcium per ounce of block cheddar or per 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar, so that helps, but it’s not enough. She only eats yogurt occasionally. She doesn’t even really like ice cream (and has never liked milkshakes) (she IS related to both me and my ice cream loving husband, I assure you). She eats cream cheese – it’s one of her non-pork camp foods this summer – but, despite having both “cream” and “cheese” right there in the name, there is only 26 mg of calcium per two tablespoons of cream cheese. (And NONE in the whipped cream cheese!) My mom and I walked through a whole list of foods that contain calcium and of that list Carla eats two things with moderate consistency: chickpeas and cheese. And sometimes yogurt. Very rarely, almonds. My mom was being really creative, too. What about calcium fortified orange juice? What about almond milk and almond butter? Carla does not drink juice and she will not touch almond milk with a ten-foot pole. I have no idea if I could get her to eat almond butter but my confidence level is low. Some people have suggested Ensure, but my guess is that if she refuses milk/juice/milkshakes, she will refuse Ensure as well. My current plan is try to coax her into drinking a smoothie every day. I can pack it with yogurt, almond milk, AND calcium fortified orange juice. She likes smoothies. We used to drink a mango smoothie together every week on the drive to ballet practice. But I am not sure if I can get her drink one every single day. My father thinks we should start giving her Tums. (We cannot do the Viactiv chocolate calcium chews.) Probably we will have to use a multi-pronged approach, with smoothies on one prong and roasted chickpeas and plenty of cheese on another prong and Tums on another prong. If you have any magical calcium ideas, I will prong them right up. 

Our refrigerator is unplugged and empty right now. This is something we’ve been planning to do, for awhile, and it’s not like I’m making big elaborate dinners at the moment, so it seems like a good time. We bought the fridge in 2011. It has some real advantages, like that it is beautiful and also it holds a TON of food. But it’s been plagued with issues almost from the beginning. To name a few: the door closing mechanism fails on a regular basis (I have learned how to source the replacement part and repair it myself), the ice maker broke and had to be repaired, the water dispenser pressure dropped off precipitously for no discernible (or fixable) reason, the bottom of the fridge fills with water that then turns to ice, the ice maker and dispenser chute are often coated with a slick black mold, the electronic panel frequently disconnects from the temperature readout and makes an incessant tinkling noise. ET CETERA. The most recent repairman I had in the house informed me that the ice problem was A Known Issue with this brand of fridge (GE/Samsung) and that it is unfixable. (He also said that if he’d known in advance this was the fridge we had, he wouldn’t have come out because he knows it is unfixable and wouldn’t want me to have to pay the service fee his company charges for sending someone to our house; he declined to charge me the service fee.) He suggested that best thing we can do is unplug it for three days, wait for the internal mechanisms to thaw, and then plug it back in and hope it works for about six months before we have to do it again. So that is what we are doing: we are thawing out the fridge in hopes that it will magically reset. We are lucky enough to have a second (though much smaller) fridge in the basement, so I have relocated the foods we cannot live without/cannot bear to toss. It is a jumbled mess down there, but at least it functions. However, now I have to run downstairs for every little thing and it’s a pain. (My husband keeps asking me, “Are you breathing heavily because you just went down two flights of stairs to the basement to get a plum and then walked back up two flights of stairs to the bedroom or because you have Covid?”) My father thinks, in a non-pressurey way, that we should just replace the damn fridge already. But I am one of those people who wants a key appliance to LOOK a certain way, and I have grown accustomed to how spacious it is. And have you SEEN how expensive refrigerators are?!?! I am not in the mood to spend one-, two- or three-THOUSAND dollars when a refrigerator should be a ONE-TIME purchase. Of course maybe we will plug the fridge back in and it will refuse to work and we will have to buy one anyway. Fun times! 

Speaking of fun times, summer feels like its coming to a close. I feel like there was so much anticipation about the summer, and our Road Trip!, and now the Road Trip! is over and Carla only has two weeks left of camp and then school will start before we know it and then it’s practically Thanksgiving, which might as well be Christmas and then a WHOLE YEAR will have passed.

A final Covid fret (for today, at least): My husband and Carla are following all the Covid protocols set forth by the CDC, my husband’s workplace, and Carla’s camp… but I am still fretting. I am being Very Strident about Carla wearing her mask, and her camp is mainly outdoors, and they only admitted children who were fully vaccinated, but ACK. I am fretting that Carla (despite having no symptoms and still testing negative on a rapid test) will somehow spread this stupid disease to others. (Also, I am very grateful for my little stockpile of rapid tests.) I hate being contagious. It is STUPID and I HATE IT. Well. As of tomorrow, according to the CDC, I am okay to leave isolation and rejoin the public, as long as I wear a mask. I haven’t taken a rapid test since the one that read positive, so I don’t know that I am negative yet, and that seems Kind Of Important, even though no one else (CDC, I am glaring in your direction) seems to agree. Anyway: I don’t have anywhere I plan to go, but the reasons that I COULD are positive: I have no fever (I don’t think I ever did) and my symptoms are improving. Except for the crankiness. That has, if anything, increased.

What are you fretting about? What’s making you cranky? Any complaints to share?

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I DID IT. Based on your supportive comments and gentle nudges toward action, I talked to my neighbor about her lovely lunch invitation.  First, I resolved to talk to her about it. Next, I cobbled together a script from several commenters’ suggestions, and I practiced it in the car and in the shower. Then, I waited for the Right Opportunity.

Carla provided me with a very nice segue – she was playing with the neighbor’s dog, and I needed her to come home to eat lunch. So I walked next door to fetch her. The neighbor came out and said hello, and I told her the reason for my appearance. Then I made my little speech: “Speaking of lunch, I was thinking about your kind invitation that we have lunch together, and I was so delighted by the offer that I said yes without thinking, but the truth is, Carla and I have so many silly food restrictions between us it’s not really worth getting into, and I was wondering if we could do something a little simpler, like afternoon tea or lemonade?” When I practiced it, I was Breezy and Casual and I had a little self-deprecating laugh in there, plus I also had a line about how of COURSE we wanted to spend time with her… and I also wanted to offer to bring homemade cookies or something… but it all came out in a rush and I forgot some of it. Oh well. At least I got out the important part which was LUNCH WILL NOT GO WELL.

Her immediate reaction was, “Oh no, sometimes I give Carla food when she comes over!” and so I had to reassure her that I didn’t mean allergies, but rather that Carla is the pickiest person on the planet. (Deftly trying to put the bulk of the blame on Carla’s food restrictions rather than my own.) Here is where Carla chimed in and informed our neighbor that I HATE tomatoes. So I am clearly not blameless. 

Once I had assured her she wasn’t doing something egregious by feeding my child cherries and red peppers, she seemed to relax a bit. She asked if something like tea and biscuits would be fine and I said that would be lovely and we discussed possible dates (though didn’t settle on anything specific). I am… so relieved. THANK YOU for helping me figure out the right way to handle this sticky situation. 

Now I can turn my Food Frets toward camp. 

Carla is attending a new camp this summer, and they don’t offer meals. So we will be packing a lunch. This is fine

Now that she is nearly NINE (which is nearly TEN, omg), I am looking forward to forcing encouraging Carla to make her own lunch (with supervision). We discussed some potential ideas for lunches, and her Ideal Lunch is a Lunchable. She only eats the ham Lunchable, and she only eats the ham, the cookies, and the crackers. She refuses to eat the cheese. If I pack her slices of other cheese – specifically cheddar that I have cut for her – she will eat that. 

So I was banking on sending her with Lunchables each day, and that if Lunchables become unavailable (again), or if she gets sick of them, we can pack a bagel and cream cheese with some pepperoni.

To round out her lunch, I would add other things she eats, like pickles and grapes and berries and grape tomatoes and red peppers and sugar snap peas. 

So I felt pretty good about our options. 

Then we got a note from camp that said NO PORK PRODUCTS. 

AHHHHHHHHH 

What now???

I suppose what we have to do is revert to PBJ. The camp is not a nut-free campus, so peanut butter is an option. Carla also enjoys eats sun butter, so she (and I) can make sandwiches every day. Carla eats sun butter sandwiches at school all year long, so I know she WILL eat them. But the last time I tried to make her one, she complained because my sandwiches weren’t the SAME as the ones at school. 

Weary sigh. 

I suppose I can just send her with the equivalent of Snack Dinner, but for lunch. But I am just not sure what the protein situation will be in that case. Snack Dinner usually has pepperoni or a couple of chicken nuggets or two.

I wonder if she would eat cold chicken nuggets (hork)? 

The reason that I am fretting about this is two-fold.

The first fold is that the camp really made a Big Deal about ensuring that we sent a LOT of food with our kids to camp. They emphasized that we should send MORE than we think – like, enough food for a week rather than a day. The kids work so hard and are so active, they are ravenous when they get to lunchtime. So I want to a) comply with the rules and b) make sure my particular kid is getting enough sustenance. 

The second fold is that Carla already eats next to nothing for lunch. I assume she eats something at school each day, although her reports are sporadic and often sound like, “Oh yeah, I ate a hamburger bun and a slice of American cheese.” So I am already facing an uphill climb when it comes to getting her to eat. I want to stack all the odds in my favor by ensuring her lunches are full of things she LIKES, not just things she tolerates. 

Well. I am not really asking for ideas, because I feel like it will be an exercise in frustration. (You, reasonably: “Send her with some chickpeas! Or beans! Or hummus! Or tuna salad! Or turkey! Or a protein drink!” and I will cringe at you while shaking my head because she will not touch ANY of that, and the list is endless.) (I am going to buy some turkey pepperoni and see if Carla will deign to try it.) I am just whining. New camp, new frets. 

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May is chaos. I was whining to the mom of one of Carla’s classmates recently about busy I feel, and she said in a gritted-teeth, long-suffering voice, “That’s just how May is. And it will get worse as the kids get older.” So that was cheering. 

It feels like I was just chugging along, doing my thing, and then suddenly realized that I have fifty deadlines heading my way and I am only partway through each project.  Luckily, this isn’t true (at least in the paying work sense; I am on top of those at least). But it FEELS that way. Worse, it feels like everyone else has alsosuddenly had the same realization. My email inbox is jammed with teacher conference requests and reminders to schedule my gutter cleaning and invitations to end-of-year parties and check-ins about summer swimming schedules and gently scolding messages from camp to fill out my kid’s many, many forms already and notifications to update school payment plans and on and on. 

We had, in the past week, an invitation to a musical performance at Carla’s school literally three days before the performance itself. And then a notice, seven days ago, from Carla’s teacher, that the class has themed days all this week – and require things like sandals that I had not yet purchased. Then we had to schedule a meeting with one of the teachers to review Carla’s goals for next year. And I (stupidly) signed up to volunteer at a big end-of-school carnival. Not to mention, we get alerts near daily about Covid cases in Carla’s grade. Plus, Carla’s been working on her big Eleanor Roosevelt research project. IT’S A LOT.

I have not felt up to most things lately – reading, cooking, planning meals, blogging – but I miss those things (except planning meals). So let’s try a random info dump. I will try not to complain TOO much, but no promises. 

Zoom Awkwardness: While I am deeply, sincerely grateful for the ability to meet with people virtually, I wish someone would figure out how to solve the end-of-meeting awkwardness. You know what I mean. When you have all already said goodbye, but then you have to fumble around to find the button that ends the meeting. I realize that this awkward moment lasts maybe five seconds, but I find it excruciating. Often, I find myself distracted in the last moments of the meeting itself because I am trying to plan my exit in the quickest possible way. But no. Even if I can find the “end meeting” button ahead of time, I inevitably fumble it, or forget that I’ve carefully hovered my cursor over it for exactly that purpose, or the “are you sure?” box pops up and I just want to die of embarrassment. I realize this may not be as big a deal to some people as it is to me, and obviously I have lived to zoom again, but I HATE IT. Just let me out of this virtual discomfort! 

End of Year Teacher Gift: Every year, our Room Parent (i.e. Room Mom) collects money for a class gift. Every year, I dutifully send in money. Every year, I fret and worry and scour Etsy for an additional gift that my kid can give to her teacher, personally, on top of the considerable amount we have already sent in. Every year, I decide that the collective gift is BETTER – usually it’s a gift card, and I’m guessing it is much more useful/appreciated by the teacher than whatever dumb crap I could come up with – and exit Etsy without buying the personalized water bottle/bookmark/coffee mug I was pondering. And yet, despite going through this for SIX YEARS NOW, I inevitably find myself in the last week of school, fretting and fretting about the possibility of being the ONLY person who doesn’t double gift with a physical gift in addition to the cash contribution.

Road Trip: I am doing a right terrible job of Not Complaining, so let’s talk about something positive. My husband and Carla and I are going on a Road Trip this summer!!!! Aside from the astronomical cost of gas, I am really excited about our Road Trip. (Yes, I am capitalizing it.) We finalized all our hotel stays over the weekend, and so now I am gleefully shopping for Road Trip Necessities. This is what my father refers to as a “Tool Buying Opportunity,” which is part of what makes the planning portion of something (an event, a hobby) as enjoyable as or more enjoyable than the actual thing itself. My husband is researching the best family audiobooks to buy (or check out from our library) for our trip, and I love that this is the way his trip planning excitement manifests. He has already played a few samples to Carla, so that they can figure out whether she’ll have trouble understanding the accent of the narrator. 

Birthday Planning Stagnation: Despite ALL of your lovely suggestions, I have made ZERO progress toward planning Carla’s birthday party. Zero. This fills me with dread and anxiety. However, I will say that with every confident, encouraging comment about hosting a party here, I grew more and more entrenched in my certainty that having a party in my home is NOT the right way to go. So that was extremely helpful, and I am so appreciative. I genuinely envy those readers who are so easy-breezy about hosting an in-home birthday party. You make it sound so easy! And fun! And like the better choice! But my gut was clear: NO. So whatever we end up doing, it will be somewhere else. Your kind, helpful suggestions also clarified for me something that I already knew – but did not know I felt with such stringency – which is that I loathe trampoline parks. We used to take Carla when she was smaller, because it was a great way to release her endless reserves of energy in the dragging months of winter. But even then I always felt like I had to be careful not to touch ANYTHING, and I would always through Carla in the tub and her clothing in the washing machine the instant we returned home. Perhaps this speaks more to the cleanliness of my local trampoline park than to anything else, but since that’s what we have available, I am going to skip it. So I suppose even if I haven’t made any forward progress, I am at the very least narrowing the field. Thank you so much for your help, even if you may feel like I am ignoring your very helpful recommendations. Your advice is helpful nonetheless. 

Handyman: In other good news, I finally finally got a handyman to not only return my call, but to come over and look at my long list of projects!!!! He seems great. He reviewed things and took measurements, and was very clear on things he can/will do and things he cannot/won’t. The most important result, though, is that he CAN and WILL repair our ceiling. I don’t know if I’ve described our ceiling hole in this space, but I am going to do so now in case you want to skip to the next equally riveting bullet. It is not a hole, per se. It is more like a place where the plaster has declined to provide its normal coverage. The plaster is peeling away from whatever material forms the ceiling, and so it looks like a hole. We have had the spot examined several times by a plumber (and by our fathers), and it does not appear to be a leak. And it’s been there for YEARS, so I think we would know by now. But this stupid plaster lapse makes me so self-conscious about our house. It looks terrible, and it’s right above the kitchen table, and I hate it. And now it will be fixed!!!! Of course, there is no scheduled date for the fixing; the handyman warned me he is booked out for several weeks. So I guess now I am just hoping he really will send me an estimate and offer some dates. I almost don’t care what it will cost because I want it fixed. But then again, I have no idea what this kind of thing should cost, so… I will report back on whether it is a swallowable amount or something that kicks me in the gut and forces me to live with the stupid hole for longer. Like I said, we’ve been living with it for YEARS, so it shouldn’t be such a big deal to keep on living with it. But at some point in the past few months, I have reached some sort of tell-tale heart level of complete inability to co-exist with this thing for one second longer. 

Calendar Bedlam: Recently, I am having an issue that makes me think my mind is on a steep decline. I keep making plans, putting them in EMPTY SPOTS in my calendar, and then realizing – sometime later – that I have double booked myself. Example 1: A friend invites me to a performance. I check the calendar and see I have plans that night. I decline. Later, a friend invites me to dinner. I check the calendar and see I am free, so I accept. The next time I talk to the performer friend, she mentions the day of her performance… which is on the day I originally had free but now do not. Example 2: I set a playdate for Carla. The next day, I notice that she in fact has an orthodontist appointment that day, so I have to reschedule the playdate. Example 3: I have to do a mandatory nicotine test per our insurance, so I schedule it in an empty spot on the calendar. I get a reminder for the test at the same time I get a reminder for a meeting with Carla’s teacher, because I have scheduled them in the same time slot. WHY AM I DOING THIS AND HOW CAN I STOP.

Dirty Martinis: I recently learned the joy and beauty of a very, very dirty martini. My whole life, I have been staunchly anti-vodka, but it seems that may be because I have only ever had cheap vodka? I recently had a martini with really good, smooth vodka and it was delicious. Then I made one at home, with the fancy expensive vodka my father-in-law drinks, and it was also delicious. I am now out of olive juice.

Jury Duty: My stint of jury duty went GREAT. The summons said that we needed to be available for five days, beginning on a Monday. So I prepared to be gone that entire week. When I did jury duty several years ago, I went in on a Monday, sat around all day, and then was called to a courtroom near the end of the day. I wasn’t selected for that jury, but I was released from jury duty for the rest of the week. This time, you call a number in advance of your service and figure out if your jury number has been selected for that day. I got to miss two days, but my number was called for Wednesday. Then I arrived at the courthouse, sat around all day, and… was released. I didn’t have to go back at all! It was… kind of pleasant? Of course, the anticipation was the dreadful part. I had to worry about childcare for Carla for the whole week, and then I had to worry about driving on a freeway during rush hour, and I had to worry about parking downtown. But once I had Carla stowed at school, had made it downtown, parked, and successfully made it to the courthouse, it was fine! Pleasant, even! It was a beautiful day and we got ninety minutes (!!!!) for our lunch hour, so I got something from Starbucks and walked around downtown. I was even a teeny bit disappointed that I didn’t get selected for a case – I think it would be interesting to serve on a jury. The biggest inconvenience of the week, it turned out, was that I kept having to email the school to let them know that Carla would or wouldn’t be arriving early for babysitting services. 

Step Off: My watch has developed quite an overblown sense of its own roll in my life lately. Constantly telling me to stop and breathe, or noting that I am usually more active at this time of day what is up????, or advising me that I can “still do it!” if I just take a brisk 20-minute walk at 11:15 pm on a weekday. And now this??? Stay in your lane, watch. I am doing the best that I can.

Keto Stall: I feel the need to give you a keto update. During my extravagant jury duty lunch hour, I ordered coffee with cream (despite the fact that I hate coffee) and a pre-made lunch kit that seemed to be fairly keto-friendly: salami, cheese, and some nuts/dried fruit that I ate even though I’m sure it was full of sugar. I did not eat the crackers. Anyway: I continue to follow a low-carb plan. And I have completely stalled. It is SO frustrating. I am doing the plan, I am eating the high-protein/high-fat foods. I am in ketosis. And yet my weight has gone nowhere. It wouldn’t be so terrible except that I HATE it. Food is not fun or enjoyable. I do not look forward to meals, and in fact actively dread them. I cannot stand to plan meals, because they are inevitably some variation on meat + veg, or else they are complicated and frequently end up tasting awful. I am constantly asking my husband what I should make for dinner. I am not having fun, I am not losing weight, it is all awful. And yet any time I LOOK at a carb, I instantly gain two pounds. So I don’t think I’m ready to quit keto either. At least I am maintaining this not-quite-ten-percent-of-my-bodyweight weight loss. ARGH. 

A Good Salad: I did make a really good salad recently. It was arugula (yum) and spinach (yuck), heavily weighted on the arugula side for me and on the spinach side for my husband (who dislikes arugula). I added goat cheese, blueberries, strawberries, a sprinkling of sliced almonds, and grilled chicken. And then I added balsamic dressing because I love dressing as much as I love sauce. (Perhaps this is causing the stall in the previous bullet, perhaps indeed, although I don’t eat salads often because of the dressing factor.)

Strawberry Marketing: The strawberries in the aforementioned salad were PINK. My grocery store had a big display and they had a lot of marketing to assure customers that the strawberries are fully ripe! And taste like pineapple! I had to try them. My husband wondered if they might taste like underripe strawberries and indeed they did. They were fine with some goat cheese and balsamic dressing though, but NOT worth $6.99 per container when I can buy actual ripe strawberry tasting strawberries for $3.50. Between these berries and the miniature iceberg lettuces, produce marketers are really working hard for their money, let me tell you.

Garden Inertia: Let us turn to another pleasant topic, which is gardening. Of which I have also done ZERO. What the hell am I doing with my time, if I am not cooking or gardening or planning Carla’s birthday party? I am fretting and wringing my hands and going in circles is what. We have people coming for dinner this weekend, so now I am suddenly feeling Very Urgent about having at least some flowers in pots. It’s not like my “garden” is anything impressive. But I do like to have a few pots with flowers and I need to do that. Perhaps Carla and I will go after school. 

Spring Shopping Syndrome: In addition to fretting/hand wringing, I have been struck by Spring Shopping Syndrome. You are familiar with this yes? The point at which the weather begins to edge carefully toward warmth and suddenly you hate every single item of clothing you own? I have been buying (and then returning) things with great abandon. Loft has been my latest obsession, and they know it: they keep emailing me with adorable dresses front and center, and so I order the dress and then it doesn’t fit and I take it back. But, to get free shipping, I added on a cute blouse, and that DID fit, so now I have that sweet, sweet dopamine rush of clicking “buy” alongside the possibility, however small, that the item I bought will be cute, which makes me want to repeat the process all over again. Interesting how I am able to analyze this behavior and see it for what it is and yet I still can’t stop/won’t stop. 

All right, that’s it for now my dear Internet.

What’s clogging your calendar this month? Have you made any springy purchases? Tell me which deer-proof flowers to buy for my garden. 

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I am in the thick of it right now, and it’s not even very thick – people are in much thicker situations, and dealing just fine, and here I am flailing around. So I am feeling stressed and also irritated with myself for being stressed over so little. It really doesn’t take much. 

Taking a page from Swistle’s book and buying pretty flowers so at least there’s something bright in my day.
  • Obviously, at the top of the frets list is the awfulness going on in Ukraine. The thought of people losing their homes, their loved ones, their lives… the thought of cities being devasted and bombed… the thought of babies and cancer patients huddled in basements and subway tunnels… it is all so awful. And then there is the underlying threat of a giant nuclear-weapon wielding toddler getting bored or angry and throwing a temper tantrum that results in nuclear destruction. Of course, there is other extremely upsetting stuff going on here in the US and around the world at the same time. The media coverage feels absolutely gleeful, there is so much bad stuff to go around. I am avoiding as much of the news as I can, which is, of course, a very privileged option. But it’s all horrible, whether you try to ignore it or not.
  • Did I mention that I stayed home today with a sick kiddo? (It’s not Covid.) I would have stayed home anyway, but being at home hits differently when there is a child at home with you. In totally unrelated news, her school went mask-optional last week. Carla was elated about the option to stop masking, and so she stopped masking. My husband and I supported this for several reasons, but it really came down to the fact that she is nearly nine and we literally cannot force her to wear a mask. Once she’s at school, all bets are off. Anyway, some of those virulent little bugs that have been waiting around for two years to get a crack at some delicious elementary schoolers jumped right on board. Right on in there. It took one week for this to happen. 
  • We are still wearing masks in public, even though cases are very low in my area right now. However, my husband and I did go to a restaurant for my birthday. We did not wear masks in the restaurant. (Although I put mine on to visit the restroom.) It feels a little odd to pick and choose this way. No masks at school, no masks at a restaurant. But I will throw on a mask to go to the grocery store or the post office. I don’t know. It all feels very strange. 
  • Dinners this week? Ha. I have not thought about a single dinner beyond tonight. No one will starve. I have some broccoli and some lettuce and some green beans to make as sides. We are having tacos for dinner tonight, even though the thought of tacos makes me queasy. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. 
  • Speaking of taco queasiness, I am doing Keto again. Sigh. This is Week Six, which seems like a good point at which to share it with you. Leave it to Keto to make my favorite food in all the world unappealing. It’s just that I’ve eaten so very much taco meat in the past six weeks. Piles and piles of it. Turns out I really need shells to enjoy the taco experience. I will try not to talk about it a whole lot, although I have found a few products and a few modifications that have made it better, this time around. If you are interested, maybe I will write a post about them. I mean, I may write a post about it anyway, no promises, but I will put something Keto-related in the headline so you can skip it if you are so inclined. 
  • I made up a big batch of Costco salmon last night, which was DELICIOUS, but then I realized that I may be eating too much salmon, and looked it up and INDEED I am eating like 50 times the recommended salmon amount, so now what? I don’t want to let the salmon go bad. Plus it is delicious. How quickly does mercury poisoning set it, anyway?
  • I did a yoga workout today and Adriene said something about how I needed to clear the desk of my mind. Well. My desk and my mind are pretty aligned, I’d say. (I did not get a lot out of today’s session.)
I have to be honest, it’s looked worse.
  • Things that are stressing me out, on the opposite end of the nuclear-warfare spectrum:
    • We are going on a trip. I have all the usual pre-trip stresses, like making packing lists and checking that the plane schedule is the same, and trying to figure out how to remain clothed in the days leading up to the trip without needing to do extra laundry. Plus, the pandemic-era pre-trip stresses, like wondering whether our flights will be canceled or our rental car will be there when we arrive or whether we will all contract Covid in the airport on the way to or from our destination. 
    • I have a meeting with a new potential client. I am excited but nervous. We are meeting in person, which is adding to the nerves. As is typical of my stress about situations like this, I am hyper-focused on WHAT DO I WEAR. I have nothing to wear, nothing at all. 
    • I volunteered for a school project, because I wanted to be more involved at school. And it is turning out to be MUCH more involved than I ever imagined. I mean, this is a thing that happens yearly. There should be clearly defined policies and procedures that I can follow. And yet it is a situation where I feel like I am in a dark room and I can only shine my flashlight on one thing at a time, and even then I can’t get a really good sense of the layout of the furniture or what things I’m missing. It is also taking A LOT OF TIME. 
    • A friend – who is heading up a different school project – asked me many months ago if I would help with a small aspect of her project. I said yes. But now I am concerned that I will be too busy with my project to devote enough time/attention to hers, but it’s also too late to back out.
    • My in-laws are coming to visit. I am so happy and relieved that my mother-in-law has completed chemotherapy. She and my father-in-law are coming up for some post-chemo doctors’ appointments and tests. It will be great to see them, but it is never un-stressful to have guests. 
    • I am on the docket for jury duty. I only had to report for one day each of the last two times I was called for jury duty. The odds are not in my favor for skipping out on it again, are they. 
    • When am I supposed to WRITE, which is supposedly my main priority? 

  • Something that is not stressing me out, but is still requiring time and energy, and, okay, a little stress, is that Girl Scout Cookies arrived. The part I hate the most, aside from asking people to spend money, is the collecting of the money. What if Carla or I make a mistake? What if we under- or overcharge someone? We already had one incident where a neighbor said that a box of cookies was missing – but in fact she had written on the form that she wanted to donate a box. So we are already on the hook for that box of cookies. It is only $5, and paying $5 is worth more than insisting the neighbor pay it. But I hate stuff like that! 
The floor of my office right now.
  • Carla and I ran some errands today. Her fever was gone (which means she can return to school tomorrow), and we mainly stayed in the car. We did go into the pharmacy, where we encountered a man with a giant bloodhound. Carla, of course, wanted to pet the dog and he, of course, wanted very much to be petted by Carla. Also, he had a very long, twisty Biblical name which I thought was absolutely spectacular for a bloodhound. Why the dog was in the pharmacy is a mystery (he wasn’t wearing a vest that indicated he is a helper dog), but it was a fun encounter nonetheless.
  • Another fun sight: I ran into the post office to drop off a StitchFix return, and on the way in I saw a man carrying a Netflix DVD to return!!!! What a blast from the past! I desperately want to know this man and his life. 
  • I bought a carton of strawberries yesterday. Listen, I KNOW that strawberries are Not Good in March. This is not strawberry season. But they were so lovely and plump and red, and I just couldn’t resist them. I haven’t opened the carton yet, so they are currently Schrödinger’s Strawberries, and could very well be juicy and delicious. 

How are you, Internet? What’s cluttering the desk of YOUR mind?

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Everything continues to grow more terrible and worrisome in the world and I hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and coping okay. 

Here, I am dealing with my own very-small-in-the-grand-scheme frets and stresses, including, as always, what to feed my family.

I had dinners for the week all planned out as of LAST MONDAY and was feeling very smug about the whole thing… but now my in-laws are coming for an unspecified amount of time, and they are staying with us, and so that whole list is OUT THE WINDOW. For one thing, I do not want to experiment with new dishes when it not just my very forgiving, very agreeable husband who is trying them with me. For another, having guests is so stressful that I want EASY and prep-ahead-able. 

I have not come up with much, let me tell you. I think my plan is going to be “mainly takeout.” But there are a couple of nights where that is just not possible, because we have Evening Commitments. 

Oh, I guess now I am going to do some fretting.

My husband asked his parents if there were any things we could get at the grocery store, to have for them to eat while they’re here. They requested milk and cereal, which are obviously things I am happy to provide… But… what else??? What do they eat for lunch??? I feel like I have purchased deli meat in the past, so that they could have sandwiches, and it ended up going bad and I had to throw it away. But I think they were staying at a hotel, which makes it much easier to go grab lunch elsewhere. I don’t know if they will be meeting friends for lunch while they are here (which ACK is a Whole Other Topic that makes me very nervous, because I think we all have very different ideas of what it means to “be careful” during a pandemic ACK ACK ACK), or if they just assume that we will have lunch meat in the fridge? But we don’t EAT lunch meat. Why am I spending an entire paragraph fretting about lunch meat? Should I just go get some ham and turkey and plan to throw it out? Probably the cost would be worth ridding myself of this particular anxiety. 

Currently, the plan is that my in-laws will be leaving the day before Labor Day, which is two days before Rosh Hashanah, so ostensibly I do not have to plan Labor Day/Rosh Hashanah meals for them. BUT they are here for health reasons, and so it’s possible that they will change their departure date. Which means I may have to plan Special Meals at the last minute. Obviously, I do not want to do that. I fretted about the Labor Day point to my husband, and he said, “hotdogs and hamburgers, done” and that made me feel MUCH better. So I guess Labor Day is taken care of. I do not even KNOW what to make for Rosh Hashanah, because I am not Jewish. I suppose I could make a brisket, but I don’t like brisket, nor do I know how to cook one. Okay. I am going to think about this later. 

While I am glad that we can host my in-laws while they are dealing with the health stuff, and obviously volunteered to have them come stay with us, I am still stressed about it. Having extra people in my space is never easy. And it has gotten LESS easy since the pandemic. 

Also did I mention that this is a Call Week? Which means my husband will be working longer and more unpredictable hours? 

Well. We do what we can. 

Dinners for the Week of August 30-September 5

  • Mahi Mahi in Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce with Sautéed Zucchini: This is a new-to-me recipe, but it’s one my husband sounded interested in, so I put it immediately on the list.
  • Tacos: This was Carla’s request for Tuesday, and I need an easy meal for Tuesday, and my in-laws seem fine with tacos, so done and done.
  • Crockpot BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Coleslaw and Roasted Potatoes: This is for soccer night, when Carla has practice during the dinner hour. I got some slider buns for the people in my family who like sandwiches (not me), and some pre-shredded cabbage, and some baby red potatoes. Easy to put together, and the potatoes can roast while we put Carla to bed. 
  • Grilled Pork Chops with Some Sort of Vegetable: Pork chops were on sale. I will deal with the vegetable later. Probably corn on the cob or zucchini. I do need to go refill our propane tank for the grill, though.
  • Takeout: Bless all those hardworking people in the restaurant industry. I plan to lean on their services a LOT this week. 

I am also going to make my favorite plum cake at some point this week. Because we haven’t had it this summer, and I feel like it is a quintessential summer food, and because cake is such a soothing, comforting food.

What are you eating this week, Internet? And what are the go-to meals you feel houseguests? 

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This post is half grousing/fretting, half meal planning, or maybe a little quite a bit less meal planning than grousing. I am just preparing you, so you can scroll down past the cranky part or click over to some other more cheerful blog. And also if you have grouses/frets, I am in a very empathetic mood, so please do share. 

Anyway, I woke up this morning in a grump. There’s nothing WRONG, per se. It’s just, you know – everything. Yesterday, I had two mildly irritating experiences that aren’t worth describing and really come down to Pandemic Life Adjustments and Everyone Is Doing the Best They Can.  (Okay, I will briefly describe one: I had to wait for nearly an hour, as in 50+ minutes, for my curbside Target order; normally the wait is like 5 minutes tops.) (Here is the brief run-down of the other: Carla’s school required me to buy a last-minute hole punch – I got the request yesterday, and the hole punch was needed yesterday and will be needed again today – and I cannot locate one; I even WENT IN to WalMart to find one and still couldn’t; so Carla just has to do without, which is fine, it’s not a big deal.) There’s nothing I can DO about these irritating experiences, and I really do think everyone is trying their utmost best, but they are still irritating. 

Plus, I am still having self-conscious feelings about our holiday cards. I know I mentioned this before, but I stuffed all of them into their envelopes yesterday so I was looking at them for a long time and I just feel like they are BAD and DUMB. I mean, my husband thinks they are cute, and I trust him, so hopefully I am just being overly precious about them? There is the possibility that he is Not Hurting My Feelings, but really thinks they are dumb… although… that doesn’t really sound like him. But the borders just seem SO uneven and the pictures are blurrier than I originally thought and I am a little uncomfortable that we are wearing Santa hats in our photos; but OF COURSE THAT IS STUPID. No one cares! Our Jewish friends do not care if we are representing Christmas in our cards! And our card is kind of light-hearted – it’s the three of us on Zoom, and it references social distancing. What if it’s too light-hearted for some people? Or feels like we are making light of the pandemic, which has been much harder on so many people than it has for us? And then, on the back, there’s a message that is a little more serious in tone, about hoping everyone is safe and healthy. And I’m worried that the tone shift is too severe? What if people think I’m being super over-serious about everything? And then on some cards I’ve written little messages like “Merry Christmas!” or whatever and that feels like adding to the mixed message-ness of it all? Plus, I look old and my nose looks weird. And OMG NOBODY CARES. But what it comes down to is that I am having to force myself to send them out, rather than feeling happy about them. 

Plus, this morning the kids in Carla’s class did an opening discussion about things they are grateful for. It was very sweet, but the things they listed (my siblings, because I can play with them even if I can’t play with my friends; being safe from corona; the world) kind of broke my heart. 

Pluscheery frivolous post material aside, I am increasingly anxious about The State of Things. The emails my husband gets from his hospital system are increasingly… upsetting. I mean, aside from the graphs they send out regularly, illustrating the steep upward climb of Covid cases and ICU patients, there have been some bland, semi-vague missives that to me seem like “covering the bases” types of emails. NOT THIS EXPRESSLY, but like, along the lines of, “Hey, you may be in a specialty totally removed from emergency or respiratory medicine but just kind of gird your loins for the possibility of maybe jumping in if we need you? Kthanx.” or “By the way, at some point we may need to shift hospital stuff to your clinics because we are running out of room. Byeeeee.” Again, this is not exactly what they are saying, and again, I think this is more like the hospital system making sure their doctors are prepared for any eventuality. But it is not a confidence-builder, you know? 

Okay. Grumping and worrying do nothing. NOTHING. Let’s go for some Cheering Thoughts:

First, I have SO MANY great cookie ideas to follow up on. This does not mean I have TOO MANY or even ENOUGH, so please let me know if you have a Must Make Holiday Cookie I need to consider.

Second, Remote Learning is going… okay, so far. I’m not going to say it’s good, because it isn’t. But it’s so much better than it went last spring. Carla is doing great and, now that the teachers have had time to prepare and some experience with online teaching, the school days are so much better organized. It still feels impossible to complete all the necessary work during the day, and neither of us is getting any exercise (where to fit it in???) (do not say wake up earlier), and we are both in Carla’s room/office for pretty much the ENTIRE DAY EVERY DAY but still, it is Much Better. And supposedly she will be back in school, in person, in early January… but even if not, we will at least have a two-week break in there. 

Third, I finally finished not one but TWO books I have been reading for literal months. One of them was really good, but had a slow start; the other was interesting but the author’s voice wasn’t my style. Anyway, I finished them, which is a good feeling. AND now I can start the three books that are next up on my to-read list: Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War by Nathaniel Philbrick, which I received as a surprise from a friend; The Searcher by Tana French, which my husband ordered for me on a whim; and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which I bought for myself. I am really excited about all three, and this anticipatory which-one-should-I read-next stage is delicious and fun. 

Fourth, back to food, this week includes both (the beginning of) Hanukkah and my wedding anniversary, which means some special meals. Perhaps I will make the special meal for Hanukkah and order takeout for our anniversary. Also I have some repeats from last week because I am lazy Super Flexible.

Dinners for the Week of December 8-14

I also have some extra cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving, so I may make these cranberry crumble bars and send some to work with my husband. 

What are you eating for dinner this week?

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What day is it, anyway? I have been off-kilter, day-wise, all week. And I just checked the date and was very surprised that it is somehow the 19th. I guess I think it should be Friday but also only November 15? Well. Time has taken on very strange and malleable properties this year. I should be accustomed to it, by now, but am very clearly NOT.

Last night was a 3:30 a.m. wake up night. I hate nights like that. They happen so frequently that I feel like I should have a better handle on them, or at least know how to get back to sleep. But somehow, in the dark, with the wind doing its best freight train impression outside my window, and the gate shrieking in protest, none of my getting-back-to-sleep techniques occurred to me at all. Instead, my brain decided to first fret extensively about the pandemic and how everything is so much worse than it was in March and yet no one seems to care, and so many people are dying and my loved ones have been spared so far but that extreme good fortune simply cannot hold for much longer. Well. I couldn’t go on thinking about THAT. So I forced my brain to choose a different line of thinking, and it decided to chart exactly how I am a failure, and how I am nearing forty and have not yet finished the book I have been working on for far too many years and how it is now too late and I should just give up in disgrace. Great second choice, brain. You dick.

This is when I pulled up Swistle’s archives on my phone and started reading old pre-Trump, pre-pandemic posts. Very cheerful and soothing. At around 5:00, I fell back to sleep.

That’s when I had a dream about being at some sort of ski resort where four little girls went sailing over a cliff and three of them died in a horrible, violent way. Really, truly gruesome. And in the dream, not only could I do nothing to help, but no one else seemed to register the horrific tragedy that had just happened in front of them, and everyone sort of shrugged and kept on skiing. Thanks, brain. 

So today I am fretful and draggy. Going to walk on the treadmill for a while would probably help, but the act of getting TO the treadmill seems unsurmountable. In terms of productivity level, I score a solid Low. I did have to go to Wal-Mart, for a “contact free” pickup, where I had to wait in a smallish area with another person for the staff member to go get my item. (A present for my niece. She lives in a different state, and I want to wrap her gifts and mail them to her because her mother does not need to wrap extra gifts.) (I do not need to wrap extra gifts either, but I have resigned myself to doing it as I have been doing for several years now. Grim it’s-not-really-as-big-an-imposition-as-it-feels-like face.) (I GET it. Sometimes it just much simpler – and MUCH less expensive! – to order from a website, often with free shipping, and have something shipped directly to your recipient rather than shipping it to your house, wrapping it, then paying to ship it to the recipient. And sometimes gift wrapping isn’t available through online retailers! I totally understand! Occasionally wrapping gifts on behalf of a family member is totally fine!) Then, after eleven minutes of standing around, counting the number of Wal-Mart staff members whose masks covered their mouths but not their noses (final count: 3 of 5), and telling two other staff members who approached me that yes, I was pretty sure I was already being helped, the staff person who’d gone to get items for me and the other shopper returned. He handed the other shopper his item. And then went to a shelf right beside where I was standing and fetched my item. Sigh. Well. I never considered Wal-Mart and efficient to be synonyms.

I was counting the minutes because I needed to get home for my microwave installation. (I made it home in time. And had enough time to wrap my niece’s gift and put it in a box to ship.) Turns out that our old microwave had been installed… badly, is the word I am coming up with. And it’s a good thing a) we never needed it repaired, because the way the previous owners installed it immediately voided the warranty and b) we never had a FIRE. Because they had “installed” it by cutting the wires of the microwave and basically hot-wiring it to the wall. Good times. But! The installation company put in an actual outlet and installed my new microwave correctly and it works and looks basically the same as the old one, so I am pleased. 

(The microwave installation people, by the way, were very nice. They wore masks. I kept the doors open while they were here and also wore a mask. They were gone in about forty minutes. But I asked one of them if they’d been extra busy during the pandemic, you know, just to make awkward conversation, and he said yes, and then went on a [very] little rant about how so many people are going SO OVERBOARD with precautions, and using too much hand sanitizer and wiping everything down, and people just need to chill out a little. Omg.) (After they left, I kept the doors open until the frightful wind started slamming them for me and I also washed my hands and wiped down the entire microwave and everything else they possibly could have touched.) 

What else can I fret to you about?

Oh yes. In Completely NOT Important In The Grand Scheme, Or Even In The Small Scheme, Really, Frets: I am worrying about Santa gifts. 

Let’s take a step back here and offer context: I grew up with Santa. I believed in Santa much longer than most children, in part because my parents were magicians at making Santa gifts appear beneath my watchful eyes, and in part because the magic was so special to me. My parents always gave us gifts, but Santa would give us the big, splashy gifts. A new bike. A Barbie Dream House. A new guitar. A kayak. Skis. (These were not all gifts for me, but various big Santa gifts I remember various members of my family getting over the year.) Anyway, they were the most exciting gifts. And it was such a delight to venture into our living room and see all these fabulous things that Santa had managed to sneak down our chimney. I have always sort of thought of Carla’s Santa gifts the same way. Santa got her a play kitchen one year. Santa brought her a Barbie Dream House a couple of years ago. Big, splashy gifts that really wow her.

My husband did not have the same experience growing up. He has never seen the gifts for Carla as “Santa gives the big gift,” but more along the lines of, it makes more sense to have a Barbie Dream House appear as from nowhere on Christmas morning rather than sit, wrapped, under the tree. And while we have discussed our different views on Santa gifts, and have very carefully said to one another that we know our own personal experience is not The One True Way, neither have we come up with a Defined Way to proceed.

With that context in mind:

As I mentioned in the Gift Guide post, we were planning on getting Carla a sewing machine for Christmas. In my mind, this was going to be her Big Gift from Santa.

But this year, another family member also had the idea to get Carla a sewing machine. And it’s a very generous gift, and very appropriate from this person. But now I am agonizing over giving up our “claim” on the sewing machine because a) now what does SANTA get for Carla? and b) what if the sewing machine doesn’t get here on time? Because this person has a lot going on this year, some very out-of-the-ordinary things that are occupying a lot of time and energy… Plus… even in normal years, this person has a very spontaneous, last-minute type of personality and gifts often arrive the day of a birthday/holiday/event or, sometimes, after the fact. In a year when shipping times and product availability are unreliable, I admit that I am extra concerned about gifts arriving in a timely manner. (That doesn’t give a lot of credit to the family member, I know, which is unfair.)

This is good practice in serenity and flexibility, isn’t it? I can only control my own actions, I cannot control the actions of others. Carla does not know she is supposed to get a sewing machine; she has not even asked for one. So if it doesn’t work out for Christmas this year, we could always get one for her next Christmas, or for her birthday. It will be fine. And, of course, Christmas is not ABOUT presents. It is about family togetherness, and the joy and satisfaction of generosity, and gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. (Yes, I realize Christmas foremost has significant religious meaning, but we are not particularly religious so it is much more of a secular holiday around here.)

And yet the anxious, catastrophize-y part of me is worrying and worrying this not-really-a-problem-problem to death, because I feel like there is tremendous extra pressure to Make Christmas Special this year. What if this is our last Christmas on earth? my doom-and-gloomful brain intones mournfully. What if one or all of us get sick and die and this is our final Christmas together? I realize, fully, that EVERY Christmas has the potential to be our last Christmas because terrible things happen all the time. But that very cheering reminder that this year is, in fact, no different from any other is not as comforting as one would hope.  Instead, it has plunged me deeper into despair and ignited within me a desire to counter that despair with retail therapy. A fleeting and overall ineffective therapy, yet a very appealing one. Except I don’t know what Big Splashy Gift to buy in place of a sewing machine, and I don’t know that I can get my husband on board even if I find one. 

I feel stupid and petty, stressing about these very inconsequential and privileged things when there are so many BIGGER and MORE IMPORTANT things to stress about. But that’s what this is, right? At least partly, it’s a reaction to how helpless I feel about everything else going on in the world. I am trying to regain control over my own little corner, and even that is proving difficult. 

I cannot be the only one wasting energy and angst on ridiculous things, right? RIGHT?

Okay, while you tell me about the inconsequential (or very consequential!) frets you are having right now, I am going to try to climb out of the pit of despair I have mired myself in. Or maybe take a nap.

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